The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) Annual Education Conference and Food Faire in Universal City on May 14th was everything I had hoped it would be and more! Here I am above (seated second from left) with other fellow celiacs I met that day. Each person pictured above has Celiac Disease. You wouldn’t guess we all have a disease, would you? We look healthy and happy, don’t we? Well, now that we are gluten-free we are healing and becoming the healthiest version of ourselves. The conference was such a positive experience and I was constantly feeling grateful that if I had to get a disease, at least I got the only one in the world that can be controlled by diet. And I have been diagnosed which is incredible when I think that approximately 3 million Americans that have Celiac do not even know they have it! Yes, I do feel lucky to have been diagnosed with Celiac.
Here’s the other side of the table I sat at, and only one person here does not have Celiac, but two of her family members do and we soon found out she is the gluten-free cook for her celiac family! It was incredible to be surrounded by others that completely understand what life with Celiac is about. The speakers and food vendors were incredible, but I have to admit one of the best parts of the conference was socializing with others at the table. And I loved all the stories. A girl at our table had been diagnosed with Celiac which then prompted her mother to get tested. Eventually, after a frustrating negative blood test (because the doc had told her to go gluten-free before the test . . .), her mother was officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I empathized since my own blood test had been negative as well. Then there was a grandmother and grandson that both had Celiac, and one woman has Celiac and Diabetes. Some people at the conference had only been diagnosed days before and the outpouring of help and advise and encouragement among conference attendees was truly awesome.
It was also amazing to be served a lunch a the Universal Hilton where EVERYTHING was gluten-free. I’ve just never experienced that outside of my own home before! The photo above was taken as we were finishing off our delicious dessert of gluten-free sorbet and strawberries dipped in chocolate.
There were 500 conference attendees this year and most had Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Isn’t that incredible? Oh, and then there were 70 gluten-free food vendors, Celiac Disease research centers represented, well-respected doctors, dietitians, gluten-free cookbook authors . . . I could go on and on! I learned so much that day that it feels overwhelming to mention it all in one post here, so expect future posts here about the conference. I hope I have the chance to go again next year! And it was an awesome bonus to get to see all my Southern California family, love you guys!